I am sure that some time ago Lijiang was an absolutely gorgeous town. Very picturesque and quaint. Narrow streets, wooden houses with red lanterns, canals and pretty stone bridges. Nowadays however, it is filled to burst with souvenir shops and every restaurant thumping loud music onto the street producing a cacophony which made me want to run. I found it disheartening. Again, it was one of those cases that as soon as I left the main streets there was nobody and I could catch a glimpse of a different town. UNESCO is a mixed blessing, for when it names a place World Heritage, it seems bound to lose some of its charm and become a tourist trap. For that is what Lijiang is these days sadly.
One remarkable thing in Asia in general and China specially, is the lack of clear skies. Yes, it might be sunny but is it hazy, half cloudy. That is ok, in most places it is very hot and if it were clear it would be impossible to walk around. However, the problem is that, as most of my photos prove, the skies look always white and most places in China are so hazy, it is impossible to see beyond some meters with any clarity. I wonder how some of the photos circulating on the internet are taken. I am guessing it must be a little like the pandas mating cycle, the planets align for 3 minutes once in a blue moon for the most breathtaking photo. Either that or photoshop. And Black Dragon Pond Park was just like that. Beautiful but I kept wishing I could have seen it on a clear day.
The Chinese love to dress up. They put on a costume and they pose for pictures in famous landmarks. Some are quite an enterprise, professional make up and several people attending to the photographer. Nowhere have I seen as many as I saw in Lijiang. Every few steps there was someone posing.
Not all was bad. As I set off exploring I found a bar with a view of the town’s rooftops. I sat there drinking a cup of beautiful yet extortionate tea and mused as to what it must have been like years ago.